We are making slow, but steady progress from our last posting, or at least I think so. The public schools are back in session, and so I think our kids are, finally, mentally in school, too. One thing I’ve noticed about prayer: when you ask God to fix others on an issue, He often changes you and your way of thinking about the so-called issue. So, after I lifted my frustrations up to God, here is where I am:
The very hardest thing must be to stand back and watch your children stumble. You’ve spent a lifetime keeping them above water, even when it meant that you nearly drowned. Now I’m supposed to stand back and just watch them dig a proverbial hole for themselves? As a part of their development into self-sustaining adults—notwithstanding their relationship with Christ—this is vital.
I mentioned before my struggles with the teenager, who had restrictions put on her privileges. After a turnaround in her performance, the restriction was lifted. Then last night she asked about going to mid-week Youth service. I was 99.9% sure that her work wasn’t completed, but what parent in his/her right mind would quell a child’s enthusiasm about going to church? Plus, she assured me that she’d have everything done, “even if I have to work on it after I come home.” I knew she’d get home late; my husband teaches the younger boys on the same night, and I’m amazed at how some parents have no consideration of the lateness of the hour for either the children or the adult volunteers. You’d think it was a Friday or Saturday night, the way that some stroll casually after visiting for 30 minutes or more with friends before picking up their children from class. I myself decided to stay home, fold the many loads of laundry now on the couch, read some for the days to come, and work with my big kids (something else the Lord has given me peace about: home comes first). At any rate, the family got in close to 10 p.m., hungry and excited to tell all about what happened during their time away. No need to detail the bunny trail, let’s just get there fast: we’re back on restricted privileges. I didn’t spank, though I respectfully disagree with a commenter that it breeds rebellion and resentment in our kids. At this point, everyone in the family has tried to counsel her in their own way (I’ll share more in the upcoming Heart of the Matter Magazine), and I’m at peace that when I do act, every other means has been tested unsuccessfully. As I said, this whole revelation of backing off has been a strange and interesting turn for me, almost like an out-of-body experience, if I may use that term. One side of me wants to step in and lecture, make suggestions, and/or completely lose it, having heard myself repeat the same words over and over. Yet, I am inclined to watch as she tries to step up to a new level of expectation. I know what I would have done, even as of last week; I know what I want to do—prioritize and plan for her, and then tell her what she needs to do. It’s almost like walking your baby take its first steps; you know he or she will fall, but if you rush in to hold them up each time, you only delay the process of them strengthening those legs and that back before the ultimate, self-assured steps come.
Next week poses a new challenge in time management. Dance season begins. I’ve already gone down the path of exactly what she needs to trim down on, when are her available blocks of free time, alternatives to get certain things done, etc. But, I will let her, perhaps with a few scrapes and stumbles, come up with her own schedule and make the necessary adjustments in her priorities and plans. Rather than go down in this bit of history as the parent who made her do this and not do that, I will continue to be led by the same small, inner voice and just wait.